Michael Watson in February 2008
|Real name||Michael Watson|
|Rated at||Super middleweight|
15 March 1965 |
|Wins by KO||21|
Michael Watson, MBE (born 15 March 1965 in Hackney, London) is a retired British boxer whose career ended prematurely as a result of near-fatal injury sustained in a WBO super-middleweight title fight defeat by Chris Eubank in September 1991.
Watson took up boxing at the age of fourteen at the Crown and Manor boxing club, where he proved to be a quick learner, winning an under-71 kg London Schools title in 1980.
Though losing amateur contests in 1981 against Garry Sanderson and southpaw Roy Connors, he had an impressive 20-2 record at the Crown and Manor Club. He transferred to the Colvestone Boxing Club where he trained and sparred for over a year with Kirkland Laing, Dennis Andries, and Darren Dyer. He entered the 1983/84 Nationals at under 75 kg and won the title. On his 19th birthday, he fought John Beckles during the 1984 London ABAs, both being national champions. Watson, initially seen as the underdog, ended the fight in just over 30 seconds. As a result, Watson was seen as Great Britain's best hope for a medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. However, his place on the Olympic team was taken by Liverpool's Brian Schumacher.
Watson's professional career lasted from 1984 to 1991. The highlight was his May 1989 victory over Nigel Benn to secure the British Commonwealth middleweight title. This led to a world title clash with Jamaican Mike McCallum, who defeated Watson by a knockout in the eleventh round.
On 22 June 1991 at Earl's Court, he met Chris Eubank in another opportunity for the world middleweight title. Eubank won by a majority decision of 116–113, 115–113 and 114–114, close enough to support dissension by some commentators and supporters.
Rematch with Eubank and injury
A rematch was arranged on 21 September 1991 at White Hart Lane, this time for the vacant WBO super middleweight title. In round 11, with Watson ahead on points and seemingly on the verge of a stoppage victory, he knocked Eubank down with a right hook. Moments later, Eubank was back on his feet and connected with a devastating uppercut, which caused Watson to fall back and hit the back of his head against the ropes. Referee Roy Francis stopped the fight in round 12, after which Watson collapsed in the ring. There was no ambulance or paramedic at the event. Doctors wearing dinner jackets arrived after some eight minutes, during which time the fallen fighter received no oxygen. A total of 28 minutes elapsed before Watson received treatment in a hospital neurosurgical unit. He spent 40 days in a coma and had six brain operations to remove a blood clot.
After regaining consciousness, he spent over a year in intensive care and rehabilitation and six more years in a wheelchair while he slowly recovered some movement and regained the ability to speak and write. Peter Hamlyn, the consultant neurosurgeon who operated on Watson, said in 2010, "I think back to those first days, and the milestone moments. The first eight months were so depressing. He couldn't hear, couldn't speak, couldn't walk. Slowly, he clawed it all back. So extraordinary".
Life after boxing
Watson sued the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) for negligence and won damages reputedly of around £1 million. The High Court ruled that the BBBoC was responsible for medical provision at a fight and that administering oxygen and resuscitation on site would have made a considerable difference to Watson's outcome. Mr Justice Kennedy said that the board was "in breach of its duty to Mr Watson". This decision was upheld at the Court of Appeal, and the BBBoC did not appeal to the House of Lords, selling their London headquarters to pay out a £400,000 compensation settlement. The judge said that this was "sadly a long way short of the damages that [Watson] would have received had the defendants had the money or had they been insured".
On 19 April 2003, Michael Watson made headlines when he completed the London Marathon, walking two hours each morning and afternoon for six days. Raising money for the Brain and Spine Foundation, Watson slept overnight in a support bus that followed him along the way. Finishing the race by his side were Chris Eubank and his neurosurgeon, who had become his personal friends.
On 4 February 2004, Watson was awarded the MBE by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. She told him that she had heard of his achievements. Watson was overjoyed and noted that this was his family's first visit to Buckingham Palace, although they had passed in front of the Palace many times before.
London Paralympic Games 2012
Michael Watson was announced as a torchbearer in the Paralympic relay.
Professional boxing record
|25 Wins (21 knockouts, 4 decisions), 4 Loss, 1 Draw|
|Lost||Chris Eubank||TKO||12 (12)||21 September 1991||White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London||Bout was for the WBO Super-middleweight title.|
|Lost||Chris Eubank||MD||12||22 June 1991||Earls Court, Kensington, London||Bout was for the WBO middleweight title.|
|Win||Anthony Brown||KO||1 (10)||1 May 1991||York Hall, Bethnal Green, London|
|Win||Craig Trotter||TKO||6 (12)||23 January 1991||Brentwood Leisure Center, Brentwood, Essex|
|Win||Errol Christie||TKO||3 (10)||18 November 1990||National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham|
|Lost||Mike McCallum||KO||11 (12)||14 April 1990||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London||Bout was for the WBA middleweight title.|
|Win||Nigel Benn||TKO||6 (12), 1:34||21 May 1989||Majestic Ballroom, Finsbury Park, London||Won Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight title.|
|Win||Franklin Owens||TKO||3 (10), ret.||8 March 1989||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London|
|Win||Jimmy Shavers||TKO||3 (10), 2:20||18 January 1989||Kensington, London|
|Win||Reggie Miller||TKO||5 (10), 3:00||24 October 1988||Blazers Night Club, Windsor, Berkshire||Stopped on cuts before the sixth round.|
|Draw||Israel Cole||TD||2 (8)||28 July 1988||Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada||Cole was unable to continue after being cut by an accidental headbutt.|
|Win||Ricky Stackhouse||TKO||4 (10)||4 May 1988||Grand Hall, Wembley, London|
|Win||Joe McKnight (boxer)||TKO||4 (10)||13 April 1988||York Hall, Bethnal Green, London|
|Win||Kenneth Styles||TKO||9 (10)||9 March 1988||Wembley, London|
|Win||Don Lee||TKO||5 (10)||3 February 1988||Wembley, London|
|Win||Sam Houston||TKO||2 (8)||28 October 1987||Grand Hall, Wembley, London|
|Win||Franki Moro||TKO||4 (8)||5 October 1987||Piccadilly, London|
|Win||Cliff Gilpin||Decision (unan.)||8||19 March 1987||York Hall, Bethnal Green, London|
|Win||Ralph Smiley||Decision (unan.)||8||22 February 1987||Wembley, London|
|Win||Alan Baptiste||Decision (unan.)||8||4 November 1986||Wembley, London|
|Win||Simon Collins||KO||1 (8)||19 July 1986||Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London|
|Lost||James Cook||Decision (unan.)||8||20 May 1986||Wembley, London|
|Win||Carlton Warren||Decision (unan.)||6||7 May 1986||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London|
|Win||Karl Barwise||TKO||3 (8), 1:29||19 February 1986||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London|
|Win||Martin McEwan||TKO||6 (8), 1:31||5 November 1985||Wembley, London|
|Win||Gary Tomlinson||TKO||4 (8), 2:04||5 June 1985||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London|
|Win||Dennis Sheehan||TKO||3 (8), 2:01||14 April 1985||York Hall, Bethnal Green, London|
|Win||Johnny Elliott||TKO||8 (8), 1:20||26 February 1985||York Hall, Bethnal Green, London|
|Win||Winston Wray||TKO||4 (4), 1:10||16 October 1984||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London|
- Fordyce, Tom (19 April 2003). "Poignant end to Watson's epic journey". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- "Remembering Jason Matthews' career". Hackney Gazette. Archant. 24 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- E.g., Dooley T Point of comparison — Randolph Turpin and Michael Watson BritishBoxing.net May 2008.
- Lewis, Mike (15 September 2001). "Super-boxing' plan for safer, better bouts". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- Mee, Bob (20 September 2001). "Talking Boxing: Life-saving comfort for Michael Watson". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- "Watson's epic fightback". BBC Sport. BBC. 14 December 2003. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- Gareth A Davies (20 January 2011). "London Marathon 2011: Michael Watson still showing his fighting spirit by helping Brain & Spine Foundation". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- Sengupta, Kim (25 September 1999). "Negligent officials ordered to pay disabled boxer wins damages from". The Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
- Sinclair, Mike (8 November 2001). "Boxing: Board lose fight with Watson". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- "Michael Watson faces £400,000 compensation limit". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 8 October 2001. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- "Watson completes marathon challenge". BBC Sport. BBC. 19 April 2003. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- "Ex-boxer Michael Watson to carry torch". BBC Sport. BBC. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Boxer: Michael Watson". BoxRec. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- "Michael Watson: Career Record". Michael Watson. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- Michael Watson's official website
- The Watson-Eubank fight as a pay-per-view download
- Eubank explains why he and Watson are now making the long-embargoed fight available
- The last two rounds of the fight between Watson and Eubank